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Friday, February 26th, 2010
11:01 am - Aw Yeah.
The RPM Challenge: Record an album in 28 days, just because you can.  That’s 10 songs or 35 minutes of original material recorded during the month of February.

I just finished three days early.  Go me.

All the tracks are pretty sparse: pressed for time, I wasn't able to overdub multiple instruments as I usually do (not much, anyway), but I kinda like that: there's something to be said for the low-key "one guy with a guitar/piano" sound.

Yeah, I had to sneak in a bit of improvised piano instrumental filler to get the 10th song, but whatevs.  10 original tracks written and recorded in 25 days.  Maybe four or five of them are good enough that I'll eventually go back and record more fully-produced versions to flesh them out.  In a normal month, I would be lucky to get even three songs (of any quality) written, let alone recorded. 


Sure, it's not the best album I've ever made, but, hey, it's definitely not the worst.


I'll be posting a couple of the better tracks on my Facebook page in the next few days, and I think the whole thing will soon be available on the RPM Jukebox site.

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Tuesday, January 5th, 2010
12:49 pm - 2009 in Review
My New Year's Resolution for 2009 was to quit smoking cigarettes.


During 2009, I:

-cut way down on my drinking
-(pretty much) quit smoking pot
-began eating healthier(ish)
-began exercising more (via new gym membership)
-finished my 2nd album
-registered to go back to college
-met The Love Of My Life


and, yes, I somehow managed to quit the cigarettes with all that other stuff going on.

So my New Year's Resolution score is something like 800%, by virtue of the fact that I accomplished everything I planned to and more.  So I guess I win 2009.

So what's my resolution for 2010?  I dunno.  It would be great to pass my Business Law class.  Or improve my ranking on the Arkham Asylum challenge maps.  Or maybe figure out how those weight machines at the gym work.

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Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009
11:07 am - What a dork.


Oy.

I've never been really into people who get uptight about words that they find insulting, demeaning, or offensive.  This is probably the most asinine example I've stumbled across, though. Words, in case it's still unclear to anyone, are merely tools that people use to explain ideas.  They have no inherent power over us, and they're not even static in terms of what they mean.  They are not something that should be feared, and stifling or banning or avoiding certain words gives them some sort of power that they should not have.

I'm a geek.  and a bit of a nerd.  Most of my friends are nerds or geeks.  They are not only open and honest about this, many of them are proud and enthusiastic about this.  Among us, the word is not an insult.  It is our word now.  We win.  No one can hurt us with words like "geek" or "nerd" anymore ("dork" still stings a bit, though...).  This sort of victory is empowering in a way that could never happen if the words were merely banned: they would be painful slurs we would be forced to fearfully and defensively pretend did not exist; instead, we have repurposed them into bold statements of identity and purpose.

Clearly, the problem is not the words themselves.  They are merely collections of sounds, bearing no meaning aside from what exists in the mind of those who speak and hear that specific sequence of phonemes.  They are only harmful if the person on the receiving end feels harmed by them.  The real problem, the real source of harm, is the people who use "nerd" or "geek" as insults; indeed, the problem is that there are people who feel that the personalities defined as "nerd" or "geek" are deserving of insult, and that identification as a geek or nerd qualifies as an insult.  These thuggish, anti-intellectual attitudes are the problem, not the words that they stupidly try to use as weapons.  If these words are discouraged to the point of falling into disuse, as David Anderegg suggests, they are taken away from the geeks and nerds who have managed to reclaim them, and given special protection, preserved as hurtful, damaging words reserved for use by thugs and bullies bold and crass enough to disregard whatever taboo might be built around their usage. We shouldn't discourage the use of these words, we should discourage the negative associations with these words, and with the concepts and personas they represent.

I am inclined to think similar things about other epithets and slurs, but I feel like I'm only qualified to come out and make this declaration in this case, since I am a nerd/geek (and have been called one both affectionately and insultingly), but not a woman or racial minority or GBLT or another oppressed group; it's not my place to tell other people that they aren't allowed to be upset or insulted by a word.  But it seems pretty obvious to me that to focus on the words is to ignore, to some degree, the attitudes and intentions that are the real problems.

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Tuesday, December 15th, 2009
1:35 pm - Because everyone else is
This Is My Life, Rated
Life:
5.7
Mind:
5.4
Body:
6.5
Spirit:
5.5
Friends/Family:
5.4
Love:
7.7
Finance:
7.2
Take the Rate My Life Quiz



Hmmmm...

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Tuesday, December 1st, 2009
11:15 am - WWID?
"For many religious people, the popular question "What would Jesus do?" is essentially the same as "What would I do?" That's the message from an intriguing and controversial new study by Nicholas Epley from the University of Chicago. Through a combination of surveys, psychological manipulation and brain-scanning, he has found that when religious Americans try to infer the will of God, they mainly draw on their own personal beliefs"
-from here.

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Tuesday, November 24th, 2009
9:55 am - Locke Is Dead—Long Live Locke!
So I'm finally caught up on all 5 seasons of Lost.

I'm still pretty confused. Hopefully it's not just me.

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Friday, November 20th, 2009
4:55 pm - Epic Legislation FAIL
Apparently, a couple of years ago, Texas got itself worked into a lather about teh gayz and passed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, civil unions, and anything even remotely similar (none o' this "separate but equal" crap in Texas: it's separate and grossly unequal).

But it seems that, in their zeal to make the discrimination as thorough and inescapable as possible, they may have shot themselves in the proverbial foot:


The amendment includes the following language:

"This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

At first glance, a fine way to make sure none o' them nasty fags find a loophole in the anti-gay marriage amendment. But look again:


"This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage."


Wait a minute...did Texas ban "opposite marriage"?!?!


Some people think so.


That's pretty fuckin' funny.

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Monday, October 19th, 2009
12:16 pm - Just one of the perks of wealth...
Happy Monday, Internet!!


Grabbing a bagel this morning, I noticed that the headline of the Wall Street Journal read:


Colleagues Finger Billionaire


and it made my day.


Yeah, I'm a 12 year old boy.  So what?!




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Thursday, October 15th, 2009
12:35 pm - C'mon, Baby, Light My Fire
A Baptist church in North Carolina is having a good ol' fashioned book/music burning for Halloween!

What's on deck?  Darwin The Qur'an gay pr0n EVERYTHING:
 

“We will also be burning Satan's popular books written by heretics like Billy Graham, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, John McArthur, James Dobson, Charles Swindoll, John Piper, Chuck Colson, Tony Evans, Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swagart, Mark Driskol, Franklin Graham, Bill Bright, Tim Lahaye, Paula White, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Joyce Myers, Brian McLaren, Robert Schuller, Mother Teresa, The Pope, Rob Bell, Erwin McManus, Donald Miller, Shane Claiborne, Brennan Manning (and) William Young."



Wait, aren't those all CHRISTIAN authors?  Christians burning books by other Christians?!  That's crazy!  What's next, Christians burning The Bible?


Well,,,yeah.  According to the article (the actual church's web site is down, oddly enough), they'll be "burning Bibles that aren’t the King James Version".

Huh. 

Oh, and music?  They'll be burning the expected heavy metal gangsta rap Liberace EVERYTHING:

“Satan's music such as country, rap, rock, pop, heavy metal, western, soft and easy, southern gospel, contemporary Christian, jazz, soul (and) oldies."


Huh.

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Thursday, October 1st, 2009
9:41 am - Color My World
So apparently a recent theatrical production in Boston attracted some concern because the only speaking role played by a person of color was the villainess.  The director has posted her respectful and sensitive response to these concerns (noting that the actress specifically requested the role and gave an excellent audition), and, what with this being the internet and all, a lengthy discussion has ensued.

Now, I was exposed to a lot of theatre in college.  I've seen black people play all sorts of roles not necessarily written for their race: good guys, bad guys, whores and housewives, wizrards and faeries, even the matron of an Irish family.  If I had watched this show, I probably would not have given a second thought to the race of anyone involved: it just wouldn't be on my radar.  Yes, I understand that it's only because of the privelege that comes along with being a white straight male that I have the luxury of not noticing these things, but there it is.  Now, if the entire main cast had been white, with all of the minorities stuck in the chorus, something might have seen amiss.  If there had been clear racist stereotyping at work, or I had good reason to suspect the people staging the show of racism ("And now, please welcome the Bill O'Reilly Players, presenting The Motherfuckin' Iced Tea Revue!!"), that would definitely have struck me as wrong.  But, as it was, race would not have jumped out at me as being a relevant issue.  Indeed, since, in my experience, the villain is the most fun and rewarding part to play, I'm more likely to see an actor being cast in such a role as something that reflects positively, rather than negatively, on them.

Now, I understand that, as a white boy who's almost always lived in predominantly white areas, I Don't Get It and never will.  I understand that racism is inherently built into our society and culture, and that art must understand and acknowledge the context it happens in.  I understand that racism is no longer as blatant or accepted as it was 100, or even 50, years ago, and that its current form is far more subtle, yet still wide-spread and damaging.  I get all of this, to the full extent I am currently able.

But my initial reaction to a situation like this is that, in a perfect world, in the racism-free society that we should all be striving for, we should be able to enjoy a show without having to dwell on anyone's race.  I don't especially like, or even understand, the seemingly paradoxical notion that an actor's race must be taken into account when they are cast in a show, in order to avoid racism (or at least the perception thereof).  When people in the LJ discussion linked above voiced similar opinions, they were largely met with disagreement and disapproval; I understand that pretending racism doesn't exist anymore, or pretending that racism can't be anything other than blatant, heavy-handed, white-hooded HATE, is bad.  I understand that openly discussing people's concerns is preferable to dismissing them.  But there's something at play here that I really don't understand.

I can't wrap my brain around the idea that disregarding a person's race, and giving them a role that they want and are qualified to play, is somehow racist.

I can't wrap my brain around the idea that disregarding a person's race and enjoying and appreciating their performance, and the show as a whole, is somehow more racist than sitting around and discussing that person's race at length.

I thought the whole objectionable idea at the core of racism was that it made it impossible for someone to be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.  I can't wrap my brain around the idea that the way to fight that is to pay more attention to the color of their skin.

I Don't Get It.

Of course, I wouldn't be so arrogant or condescending as to tell people who expressed concern over this situation that they were wrong, or that I'm right.  I wouldn't force my understanding (or lack thereof) on anyone else, because my experiences leave me ill-equipped to completely grok the nature of modern American racism (or sexism, or homophobia, etc).  I'm ultimately on the side of equality and freedom and progress, of course.  But sometimes, for whatever reason, something about the liberal position just doesn't quite seem right to me.

Oh, well.

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Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009
8:12 am - Never Forget


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Friday, September 18th, 2009
11:07 am - Wait, what?
An ABC news story tells us that "People without health insurance are 40 percent more likely to die than those with private insurance".

And here I thought that it was pretty much a given that we're all going to die someday.

I knew having health insurance was good, but I didn't realize it gave one a fighting chance at immortality.

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Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009
12:56 pm - WHAT.
Apparently President Obama has decided to address the nation's schoolchildren.

President Obama announced that on September 8 — the first day of school for many children across America — he will deliver a national address directly to students on the importance of education. The President will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning. He will also call for a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, parents and educators to ensure that every child in every school receives the best education possible so they can compete in the global economy for good jobs and live rewarding and productive lives as American citizens.


Awesome! Isn't that great? Regardless of one's personal politics, whether or not one agrees with Obama's policies, isn't it great that he's dedicated enough to education to directly engage young people and try to get them interested in and devoted to their educations? After all, education not only helps the child in question, but ends up making us a stronger and better nation overall. Right? There's nothing controversial here! The President's stated purpose for his address is unambiguously, undisputably good, regardless of political affiliation, right? Right?!?!


Hahahahahahahhahahahahah.

As the father of four children, I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology. The idea that school children across our nation will be forced to watch the President justify his plans for government-run health care, banks, and automobile companies, increasing taxes on those who create jobs, and racking up more debt than any other President, is not only infuriating, but goes against beliefs of the majority of Americans, while bypassing American parents through an invasive abuse of power.

- Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer
 
 

Wait, what? Seriously?

Well, regardless of what rumors are going around, parents will be able to hear directly from their kids what the president really said, right?



Hahahahahahahahahahahah.

Word is traveling fast on the internet, between bloggers and twitter, the choice is clear : No school for kids on September 8th due to the beginning of Socialist Indoctrination of Americas children. Keep your kids home September 8th...Take a day of vacation. Go to the zoo. Anything that would save your offspring from what I will bluntly say is just the quasi-fellating the executive branch. That cackling over a bubbling cauldron you hear is the NEA rejoicing.

-Chain e-mail encouraging parents to keep their children home the day of President Obama's address

WHAT.
Lengthy political rantCollapse )

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Tuesday, August 25th, 2009
12:27 pm - Oh, God.
Preventing gay couples from adopting is so 1990's.

This is the 21st century.  We only prevent atheists from adopting children.


In an extraordinary decision, Judge Camarata denied the Burkes' right to the child because of their lack of belief in a Supreme Being. Despite the Burkes' "high moral and ethical standards," he said, the New Jersey state constitution declares that "no person shall be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshiping Almighty God in a manner agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience." Despite Eleanor Katherine's tender years, he continued, "the child should have the freedom to worship as she sees fit, and not be influenced by prospective parents who do not believe in a Supreme Being."


Myself, I would have thought that being raised by atheists is no more or less an "influence" or an infringement on "freedom" than being raised to believe in any other religion to the exclusion of others.  But what would I know?  I'm just a stupid agnostic.

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Thursday, August 20th, 2009
12:44 pm - What.
Bob Zemeckis to remake...Yellow Submarine?!?!


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Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
11:51 am - Can I be Frank with You?
Barney Frank FTW:



Woman at microphone: Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy, as Obama has expressly supported this policy? Why are you supporting it?

Frank: Let me, uh, I will—

Woman at microphone: —a real solution—

Frank: When you asked me that question, I am gonna revert to my ethnic heritage and answer your question with a question: On what planet do you spend most of your time?

[laughter and applause; edit]

Frank: Do you want me to answer the question? Yes, as you stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler [woman proudly holds up picture of Obama as Hitler], and compare the effort to increase healthcare to the Nazis, my answer to you is, as I said before, it is a tribute to the First Amendment that this kind of vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated. [applause; woman shouts something inaudible] Ma'am, trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table! I have no interest in doing it.

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Thursday, August 13th, 2009
12:26 pm - Wow, he doth protest a lot.
Sci-Fi writer John C. Wright apparently felt compelled to write a lengthy and angry anti-gay rant on his blog, in which he compared "homosex"  to sadomasochism, pederasty, necrophilia, bestiality, drug abuse, adultery, incest, racism...you get the idea.  I told you it was lengthy.

And then, in a delicious bit of irony, he took a break from hysterically declaring all gays to be horrible evil perverts to say "They do not deal with rational answers. They have one and only one weapon in their arsenal: ad hominem."

That is: Gays are evil, horrible perverts bent on destroying America...and name-calling is bad.

I've never read one of this fuckneck's stories.  And now I won't.  Because I don't give my business to crazy bigots when I can avoid it. 

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Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
7:25 pm - Bush or Batman?
</div>

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12:12 pm - The GOP: WTF?
Hunter at The Daily Kos weighs in on what the hell is going on with the modern GOP: a fringe movement that has somehow inexplicably defined itself as a mainstream political affiliation: a mix of anger, greed, ignorance and racism disguised as ostensibly reasonable hostility to taxes, opposition to health care reform, and skepticism about Obama's birth certificate:

 

It is, in short, a movement made up of the enfranchised and enabled; people who have gained every benefit from the politics of America and yet who feel in their very bones that they are the oppressed ones, the ones who have nothing left to lose, so rapidly is America falling away from them. It is rare to run across any movement so deeply angry -- or more to the point, a movement which explicitly celebrates anger as the primary mission of their activism. They are not willing to listen to any factual evidence that contradicts their own beliefs in whatever dark conspiracies have been peddled to them; they have in fact made it their publicly proclaimed mission to block any such explanations from even being attempted.

That seems the operative element of discourse, of late. It is angry beyond any objective rationale. It is actively hostile to fact. It finds the mere premise of debating a political argument to be deeply offensive.

[...]

It seems at first a bizarre thought, a mere freeform hiccup of the brain, but between a half-dozen different commentators I am apparently already far from the first to have it: it seems to me like the last time we saw public discourse be as intentionally devolved as it is today was during, of all things, American desegregation.
That was the last time you had deeply conservative southern governors and states yelling about secession because the federal government was forcing things on them that they couldn't tolerate, and making belligerent anti-federalism statements over the slightest little thing.
That was the last time America so prominently saw, on television, shouting white mobs and the threats against lawmakers, all explicitly intended not at debate, but as efforts of pure intimidation in order to stop the debate from ever taking place.
That was when you had phalanxes of very dumb but very loud people weeping in front of the cameras that the fabric of America was being destroyed, though they couldn't begin to actually tell you why or how, only that it involved black people rising above their place in the world and the subsequent corruption of their government.

That was when you had men with fervent political beliefs walking into "too-liberal" churches and murdering in cold blood those who they disagreed with.
 

 
The whole thing is a thought-provoking and terrifying read.  This is what modern "conservatism" comes down to: not just believing that they're right (everyone does), but believing that even listening to or contemplating any alternative view is somehow wrong, or even dangerous

I can't believe that this is a rational result of mere dedication to an ideal.  This strikes me as angry, ignorant, dogmatic, emotionally unbalanced obsession.  The blind rage, and the idea that merely labeling something "socialism" constitutes a valid argument against it, reminds me (perhaps not coincidentally) of the worst kind of religious fundamentalism: Teh Gay is Wrong Because the Bible Said So.  Case Closed.  Evolution is Wrong Because the Bible Said So.  Case Closed.  And so on.  They can't allow others, or even themselves, to doubt The Authority of The Bible; to do so is Wrong.  Why? 'Cause the Bible Said So.  Duh.

Lots of people are politically conservative, and lots of people are religious.  That's fine.  But some people are so unstable that they need to latch onto something, some concept, some anchor, like God or America or whatever, that can give their lives meaning and structure and stability and some measure of comfort.  The minute it seems like somebody is going to destroy or take away or alter or even disagree with their God or their America or whatever their anchor is, they get hysterical.  And possibly dangerous.

This is what happens when a major political party spends decades building a base around exclusion and fear of The Other: racial minorities, women, gays, immigrants, intellectuals, academics, atheists, Muslims, communists, socialists, the poor, etc.  You get stuck with a bunch of angry, stupid, white bigots who don't know how to do anything except assemble into an angry mob.  Yay.



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Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
4:23 pm - ZOMG SOCIALISM
From Investor's Business Daily (via Paul Krugman):


People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.


Yes, that Horrible Socialized Medicine is nothing more than a government infrastructure for the ruthless murder of the ostensibly unproductive and unnecessary!  Through sheer cold-heartedness and near-sighted beaurocratic idiocy, Obamacare could deprive the world of great minds like Stephen Hawking.

For those unfamiliar with the man, Stephen Hawking is a brilliant theoretical physicist and highly successful popular science author who suffers from ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease.

He is also a citizen and life-long resident of Great Britain. 

But, y'know, he wouldn't stand a chance there.  'Cause...cause he...he just wouldn't.  And...and...and...ZOMG SOCIALISM!!!!!!111!!!!

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